Forum

Pipeline construction could benefit economy

Pipeline construction could benefit economy (credit: Juan Fernandez/) Pipeline construction could benefit economy (credit: Juan Fernandez/)
Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

The Keystone XL pipeline, which has been hotly debated the past few months, was denied its permit last month by President Barack Obama on the grounds that he did not have enough time to adequately review whether the pipeline would be safe. This was after a compromise between Republican and Democratic members of Congress resulted in a deadline for a decision on the pipeline.

Republican members, led by Speaker of the House John Boehner, resurrected measures late last month to construct the pipeline. Boehner’s goal is to give the House Committee on Energy and Commerce the power to grant the pipeline’s permits instead of the president.

Construction on the pipeline should be approved because it would create a number of jobs, allow the U.S. to decrease its dependence on foreign oil, and be environmentally safe.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce projects that 250,000 jobs would be created by the pipeline’s construction. According to a report by ABC News, Boehner said that the pipeline would add about 100,000 jobs to our economy.

More modest projections from TransCanada, the company trying to construct the pipeline, claim that around 20,000 jobs would be created directly through construction.

This doesn’t include the indirect economic stimulus that the construction would provide by acquiring supplies, or through the money that the workers would inject back into the economy.

Regardless of which projection is correct, a project this massive is an easy free-market solution to creating short- to medium-term jobs through the construction and long-term maintenance of the pipeline. The pipeline has the potential to jump-start some long-term economic growth. This would be a much needed shot in the arm for our stagnant economy.

Opponents of the pipeline claim on several blogs and environmental awareness websites, notably grist.org, that it doesn’t aid U.S. energy independence because much of the oil going to Gulf Coast refineries is set for export and not sold to U.S. markets. Though they would be correct, the reason that this oil is being exported is because proceeds on oil exports are tax free, according to tarsandsaction.org.

If the U.S. were to equalize tax rates and make the domestic market as competitive as the foreign market for oil, then the Keystone XL pipeline would be just half of a two-part solution to increasing energy independence.

If tax reform is enacted, then we will have a gateway toward a safe oil partnership with Canada, a nation with which we have a history of friendly trade relations. As of right now, however, even if the U.S. were to enact this tax reform, we still wouldn’t have developed the domestic oil resources needed to be independent. This is why development of the pipeline would help give the United States options in the future if we want to promote energy independence.

The biggest objection to the Keystone XL pipeline is its environmental impact. The pipeline’s route would go through the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water and agricultural support for many in the Midwest and hosts a large wildlife population.

However, the pipeline is “the most technologically advanced and safest pipeline in the world,” according Rep. Ed Whitfield (R–Ky.), a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. TransCanada has designed it to have 57 improvements on U.S. standard safety requirements.

In addition, there are 200,000 miles of comparable pipeline in the U.S. that have managed to operate with little or no harm to the environment.

The pipeline would help the U.S. economy in many ways without a large environmental impact. Congress needs to approve its construction for the economic security of our country.